Thursday 1 January 2009


What a year!

Fox 25 News covered PCG and Gerry Flurry had a hernia over being compared to David Koresh. Oklahoma newspapers made a fortune out of Gerry's frantic - and wordy - attempts at damage control.

William Dankenbring had his nose put out of prophetic joint by Obama's victory, but not enough to knock him off the prediction-addiction merry-go-round (it's doubtful even the Second Coming could do that!)

Globetrotting Doomsdayer Ronald Weinland called down the Great Tribulation, but it was a "no show" - twice. Ronnie also called down divine retribution on his critics - a slow painful death - but instead it was Ron himself who was blessed with an IRS audit. Don't give up Ron, remember, in the words of P.T. Barnum, there's a sucker born every minute.

James Tabor launched the third edition of a book which promotes (among other things) a version of British Israelism: perhaps best described as "BI, but..." (the kind of BI you promote when you don't want it to be labeled as BI.)

Doc Michael Germano, Living University's tenuous link to academic credibility, threw away $250 on a John McCain political donation while at the same time Bob Thiel reassured us that LCG taught against such wicked worldliness.

Rod Meredith double-disfellowshipped Fred Coulter, setting something of a precedent as Fred has never been a member of LCG. Rod then fell victim to a stroke which saw him surrender the reigns to Richard Ames (Fred's views on the proximity of these two events is unknown.)

English academic David Barrett invited past and present members to contribute to his upcoming doctoral thesis on WCG's splinters via an online survey.

Raymond McNair, one of the WCG's foundation evangelists, passed from the scene, as did the church's most famous co-worker, chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer.

John Meakin jumped ship from David Hulme's sect to scamper onto the slippery decks of LCG. Out of the frying pan...

WCG's Canadian Board voted unanimously to repeal their Policy Governance Manual at the directive of the Pastor Generalissimo Tkach.

Gerry Flurry helped out the Iranian economy by buying up caramel onxyx to decorate his cloned auditorium in Edmond.

Paul Kroll and Dennis Pelley left the employ of WCG.

Yisrayl Hawkins announced Armageddon for June 12. While the nuclear weapons failed to appear in the skies, "Buffalo Bill" barely batted an eyelid.

David Pack and Don Billingsley remarried (not, obviously, to each other, though some might consider them ideally matched.)

Joel Meeker spat the dummy over the election of Aaron Dean to UCG's Council (Dean had earlier been subject to church discipline over a speaking engagement at a non-UCG venue), but later issued an apology for his outburst. The COE also put the final nail in the coffin over the plan to relocate to Texas.

WCG found a pig, put lipstick on it, and christened it Grace Communion Seminary.

Weinland kept his followers waiting and wondering about just who might join him as the second of the prophesied Two Witnesses. It turned out to be his doting wife Laura.

So, in the spirit of TIME magazine, can we find a Person of the Year out of that lot?

Envelope please...

"For sheer chutzpah in the face of disconfirmation, picking himself up off his bruised arse and pretending not to have made a complete pillock out of himself. For clinging to insane personal claims despite clear proof to the contrary..."

Without a doubt, AW's person of 2008 is Ronnie Weinland.

Happy New Year!


Anonymous said...

I have to say, watching Ronnie Weinland fall on his face twice this year has been quite amusing. There's the old saying "Pride commeth before the fall." He certainly had his head filled with pride this past year and a half with the attention he got from his book, which was a complete and utter failure on every chapter, page and word. May 2009 ring in the removal of him and his wife on substantiated charges of being a false prophet.

Anonymous said...

"Uh excuse me...RW here,

Truly, Truly, I am the Person of the next 3 1/2 years. I truly am.

Any other award by you critics would be..would be...well, simply insane."

(Wait...what's this?)

"Uh, no excuse me there Mr. False Profit. I have never quite had to inject myself into being the most amazing, stupendous, incredible or overarching personality in CoGdom quite like this before brethren, but, I, David Pack, am Apostle of the last few years and more to come. Vote me in brethren...OR YOU'RE GONE!"

(hark...yet more)

"Barak, King of the Whole Earth would choose me, Bill Dankenbring, Apostle Sole as person of the year. It was I who studied three years in Formosa as a type of the Apostle Paul's sojourn in Arabia under the instruction of Jesus remember!

(And lest we forget)

"Pick me, pick me!" said The Surprised God:

"In his divinity, and vicarious (representative, substitutionary) humanity, Jesus uniquely ministers on behalf of God to all humanity, and on behalf of all humanity to God. in the Spirit, on behalf of all humanity. And.........

...Jesus continues to be FULLY God and FULLY human (now ascended and glorified in his humanity) (Ed. note: I love the Fullies!)

Jesus' presence in heaven in glorified, human/bodily form continues. That presence necessarily points to a corresponding absence: In his glorified humanity, Jesus is absent bodily from earth..."

Huh? And you know this how?

I vote for Gavin and the dedicated Watchdogs who just may, in the near future, be able to say they saved a few sincere yet Sheepled souls from a lot more headaches and theological abuses.

Anonymous said...

I believe a magazine cover is fitting for this occasion!

Mary Lane said...

Although I detest Armstrongism, I have to admit that there is a pastor of one of the COGs that was on 'Good Morning America'recently, that I have found admirable-
This COG pastor is one worth knowing. I received this from a COG member in Florida-

Mei and I know Ralph & Jenny Hanahan, who pastors a small independent CoG in Columbia, S.C. We have often stopped over in Columbia and attended Ralph's congregation when traveling. Ralph often leads the music and occasionally gives a sermon at the CoG Feast of Tabernacles site in Myrtle Beach S.C.

This video was on ABCs Morning America show yesterday. Makes me feel proud to know Ralph, and to see a fellow CoG member get national recognition.

This is what I call; living your Christianity. Take a look at;

larry said...

Care to make some predictions for 2009?

Anonymous said...

For the most bizarre cog'let event in 2008, I submit my entry here

Anonymous said...

Prophecies for 2008. How did we do?

Anonymous said...

I've got to give it to you, Gavin, your end-of-the-year summary regarding things COG was superbly well-stated!

Like the pink Eveready battery bunny madly beating his drum, the ever-increasing INSANITY within the fantasy universe of the WCG splinters keeps going and going and going.

But let's not forget that Islamic fundamentalism had an equally "impressive" 2008 as well.

These two broad fanatical groups of bizarre metaphysical belief systems really do mutually "excel" one another in religiously-inspired lunacy. I’m just glad that the COG’s don’t believe in violent terrorism as a tool of conversation – well, at least THIS side of the Millennium, with the exception of Ron Weinland, of course!

Corky said...

Happy New Year - and don't forget the black-eyed peas and hog jowl.

Oops. I guess WCGers wouldn't have that tradition, would they? Oh well, maybe just pop a firecracker or something.

Anonymous said...

Ron does get the vote for worst sermons on the net.

"Do we know? Nooooooooooo, it's spiritual and some of YOU misunderstood it. God starts out slowly, then fast but not fast like we think of fast. God's fast is not YOUR'RE fast! It really is brethern. If it doesn't happen as I said, I DON"T CARE. God doesn't speak to me when he speaks to me. You people tend to think wrong when I explain it right.

It's truly about judgement and this that and the other thing will happen. Satan looses, God wins, we win, I win. God hasn't told me even though I said he did. I DON"T CARE! It truly is sick.

I'm not changing my book . It's SPIRITUAL brethren. You didn't get it. Now we get it!

Trumpets blow, stuff happens, vials ooze, plagues inflict..that's all you need to know...Billions die in a day, cool huh? It's Spiritual in a physical way!!!!

God has clearly with ambiguity revealed to me in hidden yet open reality what might, could , maybe prolly not happen. You just have trust that brethren.

Trees in this world are corrupt. Well not orange trees, or Mcintosh trees, but most trees are evil. God is pissed. I am the deliverer of his pissage. But I DON"T CARE!

God knows what he is doing, I don't but I DON"T CARE. I am the Witness. Just you wait! Bring em on!

Singles...please bring a watermelon to the the Tribulation.

Anonymous said...

Bobby Fischer may not have been the most famous co-worker ever. There are rumors going around that Arnold Schwarzenegger was once in that group. Fischer would only be the most infamous ever.

jack635 said...

Happy New Year Gavin.
Ronald Weinland has accumulated many titles for himself this year.
Spokesman of the two witnesses

AW Person of the Year


False Prophet of the Year (2008).

I am sure the other Weinland Blogs will honor him in the same fashion.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing and not so amusing that you don't believe in God but you think there could be a connection between Mr Meredith,s stroke and his disfellowshiping Fred Coulter

Gavin said...

Somebody wrote: It is amazing and not so amusing that you don't believe in God but you think there could be a connection between Mr Meredith,s stroke and his disfellowshiping Fred Coulter

Thank you for clarifying that. I didn't realise I was an atheist, but had a fairly sophisticated concept of God (high on the Tillich, low on the Barth). But obviously I'm wrong... it's the anthropomorphic Thunder-Hurler or nothin'.

I also didn't realise that my use of humor in linking Meredith and Coulter meant I was actually implying causality. Silly me.

Maybe it would be safer if you stuck to Bob Thiel's blog.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hanahan must have been terribly upset that his act of selflessness got all twisted up and perverted into a Christmas gift...I know I would have been.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie gets the Willie

Although it's not by unanimous vote, Ron Weinland is unofficially the winner of the fictitious William Miller Award for Prophetic Disappointment, aka "The Willie".

Anonymous said...

Actually, Anon 11:38, one of the things that really impressed me about Ralph Hanahan is that unlike many of the people in the ACOGs, he did not make a federal over the Christmas thingy. His demeanor exemplified Godly humility, (to say nothing of Pauline theology), and love for some of the other Christians who might just happen to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ during the Christmas season. He allowed others to make what they might of his kindness.

I should point out that I am in no way an Armstrong sympathizer, and would never consider attending any of the splinters. It's just that I've come to realize that (gasp!)there probably actually are a few genuine Christians who are part of the splinters.

I remember when the Ratzman episode happened a few years ago. There was a sincere outpouring of Godly sympathy and love by the Christian community in Milwaukee, and all that LCG could do was complain about the "pagan" crosses other Christians used as part of their tribute. LCG members should have been gracious, and simply thanked everyone for their support.
Their former apostle never corrected world leaders when he preached the gospel of "a strong hand from somewhere".

Anonymous said...

"Although it's not by unanimous vote, Ron Weinland is unofficially the winner of the fictitious William Miller Award for Prophetic Disappointment, aka "The Willie"."

Now we have the beginning of an annual award... hah, The Willie.....

Anonymous said...

BB, to be fair to LCG members, I believe Spanky chastised Bob Thiel for his retort about the crosses.

With HWA's soft-pedalling his message to world leaders, I remember being told in a sermonette he was "pulling no punches" with them. Another time, we were more realistically told "someday he will need to be more direct" and gave an example of what HWA may one day need to tell Indira Gandhi.

Anonymous said...

Since Ronnie is "all wet" regarding his prophecies, I think he should receive the "Wet Willie Award"

In fact, Ronnie was the recipient of such an award at a young age (while at a preschool playground), and there's actually photographic evidence of him about to receive the 'award'.

He prophesied that the giver of the wet willie would fall off the see-saw and get a sore bum.
No one fell off the see-saw, but lil' ronnie did get in trouble for keeping the milk-money his mommy gave him.

Playground rumor says he never quite got over that wet willie.

Anonymous said...

An observation for 2009:

What we may be seeing in those who see themselves clearly spoken of in the scripture is nothing less than various forms and stages of mental illness.

What does it take for a man to see himself spoken of in the pages of the Bible?

What does it take for a man to think a wife is one of the Two Witnesses spoken of in the rather historically failed prophecies of book of Revelation?

What does does it take for a man to demand that a membership send in retirement accounts, sell homes or take our second mortgages and send it in?

What does it take to tell them that he doesn't mean a mere thousand or two, but rather 20,30,50,100 thousand?

Why do men, who are 99% screaming the same prophetic dirge from the pages of the Journal or their own publications, crave and demand to be heard above the rest?

What does it take to know that you alone have the truth of the entire universe and you alone dispense it as you see it?

Money? Power?

In not a few cases, I vote mental illness.

As noted in the past, a man can hide well in the ministry or as a specially called Apostle, Prophet or Witness. Mental illness in the context of religion can look like obedience, faithfulness, special insite and unique calling.

We don't think of the dominant figures in the Bible, Old and New Testament as having mental illnesses that account for their exploints much.

Ezekiel had all the symptoms of a man with temporal lobe epilepsy. Hyper religiosity and hypergraphia are common to such people. Ezekiel writes the fourth longest book in the bible and just a bit shorter than all of Genesis. All rants and raves, visions and very strange behaviors that fill mental hospitals today. (I think we know modern Apostles who write and rewrite or wear others out doing it for them)

Saul was Melancholy,

Moses talked to bushes for his instructions and seems not to have minded killing people and getting livid, accusing them in the desert for being thirsty and hungry.

Ezekiel laid seige to a frying pan and cooked food with his own dung.

Abraham had no problem agreeing to the voices to kill his son.

The Apostle Paul heard voices no one else heard and got ALL his information from the voices in his head that he identified as that of Christ, including his rendition of the Eucharist. He saw flashing lights that he interpreted as Jesus. All signs of temporal lobe epilepsy. (I realize this is Luke's version of Paul's calling. Paul does not tell this story himself in his writings and "merely" notes he was "set apart from the womb.")

We know, or should know that Jesus "cured" epilepsy when it threw some down or into the fire. It was demons to them, but we should know better. Wait 20 minutes and they are all cured.

Any first century human who commanded the evil out would believe the recovery was their doing.

And as others have so well pointed out in the past, Narcissism takes many men to the top of their game,always on the backs of others with their malignant self love.

The religiously mentally ill also are the last to see it, question themselves or get help. Those around them don't dare bring it up even if they suspected it.

I know, in the COG, we have swallowed the meme that the Isaiahs, Jeremiahs, Ezekiels, Daniel and Revelation are amazingly accurate. They aren't at all and contain many failed prophecies within the texts. We just don't want to think about that or consider that because, raises questions about things.

Just a thought as we start a new year watching the very old abuses of the hyper-religious contine to unfold. The world is full of the hyper-religious.

We tend to be just as much a part of their audiences as the people who drive to hear them speak every week.

As Sam Kineston, the comedian, once said...People who live in the desert need to "MOVE!" "They don't need food...they need LUGGAGE!"

Anonymous said...

Fox 25 News covered PCG and Gerry Flurry had a hernia over being compared to David Koresh.

Gerald Flurry and David Koresh do have some similarities, but it might be well to remember that there are also some differences.

Whereas David Koresh lied to a relatively small group of suckers, Gerald Flurry is trying to tell his deliberate, outright lies to many thousands of people.

Whereas relatively few suckers were financially ruined by David Koresh, Gerald Flurry is trying to financially ruin many thousands of suckers.

Whereas David Koresh wrecked a relatively small number of families, Gerald Flurry is trying to wreck literally thousands of families.

Whereas David Koresh cost a relatively small number of people their temporary lives here on earth, Gerald Flurry is trying to cost thousands of people their eternal lives.

Whereas David Koresh was stopped by the authorities, Gerald Flurry's evil behavior continues, as he has learned how to game the system and do all his lying, and killing, and destroying in the name of religion.

The differences revolve mostly around the MAGNITUDE of the crimes against humanity that David and Gerald commit. While all such thieves and robbers come only to lie, and kill, and destroy, there are different approaches. Some, like David Koresh, are content to lie, and kill, and destroy relatively few people. Others, like Gerald Flurry, try to lie, and kill, and destroy as many people as possible.

The day is coming when weeds like Gerald Flurry will be rooted out by God and burned in the fire. Until then, you had better watch out for your own self.

Anonymous said...

"you had better watch out for your own self"

True. The only "church" anyone needs is the bible. And the only minister anyone needs is the testimony of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of the Living God.

After all, he did say: "All who came before me were thieves and robbers". He was talking about the priests and elders. It IS the same today with the Flurrys, Weinlands, etc.

You don't have to put your hard earned money into a slot in your bible.

Anonymous said...

"The only "church" anyone needs is the bible. And the only minister anyone needs is the testimony of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Son of the Living God."

Oh yeah...that approach produces balanced and tolerant people and cures everything.

Anonymous said...

Truth & y'all

That's why I chuckle when the COGwriter highlights his post with a picture of a bible "vs" a picture of Weinland's book or some other menage of photos. Then he quotes Catholic prophets and suggests looking at Mayan calendars.

Most of the splinters rely on the Bible and quotes from HWA. I'm waiting for a photo of the Bible vs Mystery of the Ages.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Truth & y'all

Then he [Bob Thiel] quotes Catholic prophets and suggests looking at Mayan calendars.

Here this you all:

It does not help Bob Thiel's cause to quote Catholic false prophets or to look to pagan Mayan calendars. Looking to the ignorant and wicked for enlightenment will just dim the view.

If HWA with all his biblical knowledge could not figure out exactly when the end will be, then what does Bob Thiel expect to learn from a bunch of pagans and sinners (breakers of God's law)???

It seems like sooner or later everyone has to wander off the path and waste time looking into nonsense.

David Ben-Ariel said...

As for the end of this world as we know it, it'll get clearer as we get nearer... at least for the Children of Light (who we are assured will not be overtaken by the darkness).

Anonymous said...

From OUTREACH Newsletter Jan/Feb:

End of the World?
The ‘prophets of doom’ are on the prowl! To my knowledge none of them have a perfect predictive track record, so the LORD said ‘don’t fear them’. (Deuteronomy 18:22). That’s what is required of a true prophet.

But that doesn’t mean one or more won’t at some time burst on the scene. God has set a time limit on human incompetence, and when it is expiring He will give plenty of warning—by the ‘signs of the times’ or by infallible prophets who exercise divine powers.

But is this ‘it’? The short answer: ‘ knows’. For we have throughout the last two millennia been through similar times of ‘distress among nations’.

That awesome day will come—in God’s time and when mankind reaches the end of its tether, and can no longer sustain life (Matthew 24:4-13).

It is for each of us to watch, to be alert, to avoid complacency. And to be spiritually prepared.

Anonymous said...

Catholic prophets

An old Catholic prophecy was quoted in a sermon. I thought, wow, the exact opposite of what we believe!

But unlike the gainsaying instructor in the Argument Sketch, a false prophet isn't always totally wrong, nor does a liar always lie.

I was impressed by Herb's accurate prediction of the Six Day War, until I found his money was on Jordan to win. And he lost his exclusive Jerusalem radio deal...

Anonymous said...

As noted:

"To my knowledge none of them have a perfect predictive track record, so the LORD said ‘don’t fear them’. (Deuteronomy 18:22). That’s what is required of a true prophet."

Isn't it curious that a Deity of the whole vast universe, with a plan that is so absolutely vital to get right and accept, doesn't just open his mouth and talk to us about what he has in store for those that love him?

Why would and an all knowing Deity begin to think that humans would trust that other human beings were actually speaking for him. Do you do that when you need to convey your exact plans and wishes to others? Nope.

On top of that, we are told that sometimes this Deity will put a lying spirit in the mouths of all the prophets.

Jeremiah had his problems with this Deity when thinking he was speaking for him.

"The Bible says (Jeremiah 20:7) that God is a deceiver. "O Lord (says Jeremiah) thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived. Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed."

"Wilt thou (says Jeremiah to God) be altogether unto me as a liar and as waters that fail?"

In 2Chronicles 18:18-21 we read.

"Then there came out a spirit and stood before the Lord and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, wherewith? And he said, I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail; go out, and do even so."

Ezekiel, in 14:9, makes God to say,

"If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet."

Can't believe anyone it seems and God, through Ezekiel, who I don't know if we can believe or not, takes credit for the deception.

When the Deity sets out to deceive humans by through the prophets, what hope is there.

The fact is that these prophets wrote this way about God to explain to themselves why what they said didn't happen as they thought. Seems it's just difficult for humans to say, "I was wrong." It always has to be taken to another level of twisted theology.

On another note, I also find it interesting and humerous that Dr. Thiel, in the last year or so, has gone over to using Mayan prophecies, Japanese hierogliphics, Catholic prophets (when it fits preconceived ideas of course) and such to keep the faithful on their toes. (Don't get me wrong, I like Mayans. I have a nice little turtle platform that used to hold human...oh never mind.) I guess the old old storyline is getting old and it needs spicing up.

He's probably addicted to the net like I am and writes between patients. I'd like to see him open up his blog to public questions and comments. When and if I read his views I feel I am looking over a wall for a peek but can't cross the moat or find the door to the castle.

Ummmm....I prophecy before us all, that won't happen. :)

Anonymous said...

To me, Thomas Payne said it well in "The Age of Reason"

Concerning revelation by one human to another...

As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some other observations on the word revelation. Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.

No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, IT IS A REVELATION TO THAT PERSON ONLY. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and HEARSAY to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.

It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication — after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; (ED NOTE: MAYBE IT TAKES 40 DAYS TO CARVE THEM INTO STONE PRIVATELY AND YOURSELF:) and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so. The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention."

I wish someone had put me on to Thomas Paynes' 200 year old perspectives in the the 1960's

Anonymous said...

David Ben-Ariel,

Any plans to blow up the Dome of the Rock this year?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dennis, I agree with your above analysis very much so - that what we now refer to as mental illness and fanatical religiosity of the fundamentalist brand are very intimately woven together, the former (often undiagnosed) frequently triggering off the latter.

Most likely that is the single best overall explanation for people like Ron Weinland, and other would be "prophets of the Lord" the COG culture spawns by the score.

It even appears one has written a brief comment above here on this blogsite - one "David Ben-Ariel" seems to be his name! Now that sounds like the (fake) moniker of someone we had better pay attention to, huh?!

Sadly though, I've known a number of COG folks who clearly have psychological problems they need professional help with in order to successfully sort out, but who refuse to seek out such assistance.

Excuses include "I just can't afford it!" - which is strange because they always can seem to afford sending in huge amounts of their hard-earned cash to the particular "one and only true Church" splinter group of the moment they've choosen to follow. Or "I don't have a problem at all" - which is like witnessing the tragic spectacle of someone who obviously has a problem with alchohol addiction (whiskey breath, ruined marriage, family and career) deny he is an alchoholic.

So the madness continues.

Anonymous said...

My own opinion is that Jesus will one day return, but, as He said, only Father God knows when. That doesn't necessarily keep people from guessing, and affirming to us all that their guess is gospel truth, though. At this time, their published guessing is simply a Godless marketing technique or membership drive for their groups.

I'm also aware of the scripture which some have taken to mean that once Israel was revived as a nation in 1948, the particular generation of people alive at that time would not pass. That's based on the guess that Israel is the branch.

Bottom line is there are two time cycles at work here. One is the time cycle alotted for mankind, which we can't know. The other is the time cycle of each of our individual lifespans, which we can't know either. One could at any time preempt the other. Either way, it behooves us to search for answers.


David Ben-Ariel said...

David Ben-Ariel,
Any plans to blow up the Dome of the Rock this year?
- asks "Anonymous"

Sounds like you've been listening to Gerald Flurry.

Is David Ben-Ariel a Terrorist?

Notice I post with my legal name since I stand by what I write, and don't cower behind anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, I too am quite a student of Thomas Paine, who I believe George Washington once said was one of the most UNDERRATED of all the original Founders of America.

In case you're interested – I can recommend two SUPERB books on the life of Paine:

Tom Paine: A Political Life by John Keane (1995)

Man of Reason: The Life of Thomas Paine by Alfred Owen Aldride (1959)

I'd never been taught about Thomas Paine in school, at least that I can remember. I first heard of this deep thinker when some WCG member gave a speech in Spokesman's Club back in the mid '80's disdainfully mentioning Paine, citing him as an infidel and heretic of the worst order.

By the way, the fellow who gave that speech later went on to become the same guy who claimed to have cursed Joe Tkach Sr., since the Almighty apparently conferred upon him that power, shortly before Tkach's death back in 1995. The last I heard he too has a "one true Church" splinter group down in South America somewhere, although I've not heard about him in many years now.

Interesting how such prophet wannabes have the common tendency to want to call down death upon others – it seems to hold a sort of fascination for them in a sick kind of way, just like it does with many Islamic militants.

He appeared to be another nutcase of the kind you mention in your first comment above. He published a diary of his thoughts out on his website some years back, and because at one time I knew who this guy was, I read through certain sections of it.

I was a psychology major in college - and this guy's diary had ALL the indications of very serious mental illness, especially delusions of grandeur.

larry said...

I have always suspected that the time of Christ's return cannot be known by humans because it hasn't been determined yet. God the Father will decide when the Church has "made Herself ready".

There really isn't any way for humans or Christians to know when that is.

I do find it remarkable that the Church is growing in Gentile nations in Africa and Asia, but shrinking in the Western world. It seems that the central and southern United States are the only areas of the industrialized world where God and Christianity are taken very seriously.

For those of you outside of America, it would probably come as a shock to see that churches, Protestant and Catholic alike, are still packed to overflowing in these geographical areas on Sundays and holidays. What I personally find remarkable about this is that there is no longer a stigma attached to not attending church. (There used to be) But, nowadays, no one HAS to go.

People go now because they choose to. What does this mean?

Anonymous said...

In re Thomas Paine: Was Paine a Deist? Or am I getting him mixed up with someone else? Because that whole bit about "revelation to one person is only for that person" makes logical sense on the face of it, the passage reads like textbook Deism.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie Weinland is seer of the year.

Ronnie should be placed on the Wit-List...correction the Nitwit-List.

Can't you just see him getting around the streets of Jerusalem in Saka-cloth and Gavin's custom designed cap on his head.


Anonymous said...

Purple Hymnal, yes, Thomas Paine was indeed a Deist, as were a number of other of America's Founding Fathers - perhaps they could more accurately be called semi-Deists, as men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc., were intellectual mixtures between Christianity and Deism. They themselves would not have totally identified with either camp fully. This is quite plain from their own writings.

These men were well-versed in history, and giants of INTELLECTUAL independence as well as political independence, carefully selecting from among the very best ideas derived from both ancient and modern thought systems, then wisely adapting them to their particular time, place and circumstance in history. Thus it's impossible to label them as completely one thing or another. They were "philosophical pluralists" in the richest sense of that term.

The completely false idea, quite popularly promoted in the Evangelical community, that America was founded as a "Christian Nation" simply does not stand up to a close and balanced examination of the actual historical record. This is very clear.

Was Christianity widespread and very influencial during the Colonial Period? - absolutely yes. But the nation was most definitely NOT founded upon the Christian religion, as many of the "Christian Nation" believers, like David Barton, endlessly though inaccurately promote.

Anonymous said...

Larry wrote:
"I do find it remarkable that the Church is growing in Gentile nations in Africa and Asia, but shrinking in the Western world."

Well, Larry, don't get too excited about this "new development in the Work."

Much was made of it when I was in David Hulme's group (COG-AIA).

But let's face the facts, Larry: the COG's are slowly going extinct in the more advanced nations. And for the most part, they are doing it to themselves. This fact is obvious to anyone who sees the situation with a minimum of realism. The only places where they appear to be gaining a few converts is in the developing third world nations.

Might I be so bold as to suggest that the vast majority of these poor "converts" have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the actual history of the WCG or the tarnished record of its hundreds of COG splinter groups - and are quite understandably reaching out for any piece of straw they can desperately latch onto given the extremely harsh conditions most of them must deal with on a daily basis?

I remember in Hulme's group, where the membership was slowly declining in numbers, he once made a big issue of several families in west Africa who wanted to join his group. Actually, he devoted an entire video sermon to this topic.

Why? Because nothing else of real merit was going on in his dwindling flock - and thus he was reduced to saying something like "It appears that God is now shifting the focus of His Work away from the Israelitish nations, to the Gentile nations." And then if I remember correctly he drew some simple-minded comparisons between his group and the early Church in Paul's day.

Hulme was really "reaching" if you know what I mean - anything to spin-doctor and draw attention AWAY from the fact that not much was being accomplished by his anemic little group.

A number of the other COG splinters have taken this same exploitative approach, and made a big deal over the handful of converts they have garnered from international regions - where political climates are dreadful, and economic conditions very difficult, where folks have to spend most of their time scratching out a living when not avoiding the corrupt governments they must survive under, etc.

To highlight such pathetic situations and spin them into "God is now shifting the focus of His Work to Gentile nations" is, in my opinion, absolutely pathetic, and shows what cynical lengths the various COG's are willing to lower themselves to in order to prolong the world of delusional fantasies they inhabit, and to keep the money streaming in.

I say "shame on them" for these pathetic little stunts.

larry said...

Actually Leonardo, I wasn't just referring to the Church of God, I was speaking of Christianity in general. I don't think that this is indicative of where God is "working", I think it has more to do with which folks in the world are open to receiving the Holy Spirit. You attribute this to desperate living conditions and tyrannical governments and you could be right.

These same conditions existed in the early years of the Church in the Roman Empire and the areas around it. Christianity offers hope to those who have none. Thus, the Church grew at an almost exponential rate in its early years. Nevertheless, I would not be quick to dismiss the importance or sincerity of these converts.

As for their being unaware of the history of the WCG and its "splinter groups", this is probably good. This board alone clearly demonstrates the vast quantity of misinformation that exists out there about the Church.

Anonymous said...

I'm not tuned into the "new" WCG, or the splinters. Most of what I know about Christianity today comes from the mainstream, and from my own reading and research.

I am very familiar with what is going on in third world, and non-Christian nations. Christianity is growing phenomenally in these areas, and those involved do compare what is ongoing there with what happened with the long lost gifts of the Holy Spirit in early Christian times during Roman captivity. Healings, answered prayer, miraculous deliverances of Christians from godless authorities, and a deep sense of kinship. Groups of Christians get together in China for nearly daily communion, and there are prayer and worship services which last for hours every single day.

I have a lady friend who went to Africa this past summer for some missionary work. It was a life changing experience for her, and she cannot wait to get enough money together to spend a couple of years there.

The sense of security which science and technology have brought to the modern nations in which most of us live does not exist in the third world. Even here in the USA, the people with whom God often works most evidently are the desperate and hopeless, the homeless, the imprisoned, and those in last chance halfway houses. Those people often have a deep appreciation for the meaning of "Give us this day our daily bread". They are not in university studying Nietche or Paine, don't have savings accounts, money market funds, or even credit cards, and are dependent on God for everything, much the same ascetic lifestyle as Jesus taught his disciples to live as they went on their evangelistic missions.

It is no mystery to me that the typical Armstrong scam could prey on the unfortunate ones, and benefit and grow right along with real classic Christianity. I just hope to God that the splinter groups do better than to mine and farm these poor hopeless people for the funds to build mansions and swimming pools, like they always have everyone else.


Anonymous said...

Larry wrote:
"Nevertheless, I would not be quick to dismiss the importance or sincerity of these converts."

But this was not my suggestion at all, Larry. I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that such converts are genuine and extremely sincere in every way - as most of us were at one time when we became interested in the teachings and work of the WCG.

But we also came to understand the hard way "the rest of the story."

My basic point is how sad it is for the COG splinter groups to sink to farming these folks in the hopes of expanding the membership rolls of their struggling little groups, or give their literature "reporters" something to write about.

It certainly appears to me this is exactly what they are doing - based on their actual past track records.

Obviously it's not for me to decide what their true motives are - but the actual FRUITS of the COG's in general are for the most part indisputable: exploiting human need, weakness, wishful thinking and ignorance for the sake of promoting their own particular COG organization - without giving a damn about all the human wreckage and ruined lives left behind as a result of "The Truth" they peddle as representatives of the Almighty.

Sort of reminds me of the American tobacco industry who now are targeting the third world, and the general ignorance of their populations, in order to personally profit from the sale of their life-destroying products.

You also wrote: "As for their being unaware of the history of the WCG and its "splinter groups", this is probably good."

How is ignorance ever good? What does it typically lead to in the long run?

"The heart of the prudent acquires KNOWLEDGE, and the ear of the wise seeks KNOWLEDGE" (Pro. 18:15)

Notice, it's KNOWLEDGE that we are encouraged to seek after here, not ignorance.

You also wrote: "This board alone clearly demonstrates the vast quantity of misinformation that exists out there about the Church."

I would agree that there are indeed a number of people who contribute foolish, unthinking, and misinformed comments to this blogsite. But for the most part I think others have some insightful things to share about their experience of Amrstrongism, etc. And if this can be of help to others who frequent this site, then what would you possibly object to in that?

I would also agree that there are certain folks who clearly are carrying around within them a lot of unresolved wrath and inner turmoil with regard to their WCG experiences - as their comments clearly show.

Yet, one must sift through the various comments, separating out the wheat from the chaff, and in doing so, our understanding expands and deepens.

larry said...

Sadly, those of us in the "Western world" also live in desperate conditions and under tyrannical governments. Most who live there though, don't realize that they are in a gilded cage.

True freedom and prosperity really don't exist in this world. This was obvious to early Christians, but not so obvious to most today.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Larry, your glib comment above really doesn't say anything of substance - and truly reflects a mind saturated with the broad, meaningless generalizations of COG rhetoric.

larry said...

Anon 1:12, glad that I am able to entertain you!

Actually, my comment above is based on an understanding of life(!), and the spiritual condition of humanity.

Now, if that happens to coincide with "broad, meaningless generalizations of COG rhetoric", then so be it. But, life has generally been a miserable experience for most of mankind down through history, and even the "well off" have their share of problems. And despite our best efforts, everyone still eventually ages and dies.

My statements may "lack substance", but I challenge you to tell me where I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

Larry wrote:
"My statements may "lack substance", but I challenge you to tell me where I am wrong.

OK, you wrote "True freedom and prosperity really don't exist in this world."

Now how can you possibly say this?

How do you define "freedom" and "prosperity"? However you define them, they must be radically different from any of which I am familiar.

In your fantasy world, what is "true" freedom and prosperity?

Without further clarification, which you consistently refuse to provide, your comments do lack substance.

Anonymous said...

Well, Anon 4:05, as usual, our friend Larry disappears when the discussion gets out of broad, hazy generalizations and into specific statements he has to actually defend. So very typical of COG folks...when the discussions become too much for them to handle intellectually, they go scampering away like frightened rabbits!

larry said...

Wow, Leonardo, now I am frightened rabbit! How funny! Sorry to disappoint you, but I am not really afraid of anything that I can think of.

Some of the statements that I have made are so profoundly obviously true that they do not require defending. But, if you think that true freedom exists in this world, you are deceived.

Anonymous said...

Leonardo said...

So very typical of COG folks...when the discussions become too much for them to handle intellectually, they go scampering away like frightened rabbits!


Don't be so sure about that. The fact is that when the truth gets too hot for the tender-skinned skeptics here, Gavin simply deletes the posts that are too strong for him and them.

Gavin does not seem to have a problem with angry perverts swearing away wildly and spouting nonsense. But if anyone answers their nonsense with the facts, he suddenly starts deleting the answers.

Gavin likes to give the impression that he is so very reluctant to censor swearing perverts spewing their anti-God evil because he wants freedom of speech. He smugly thinks that promoting vile behavior is very clever. He can imagine and pretend that they are all having "genteel debate" while they are all really just up to no good. Any questioning of their behavior or pointing out of facts gets deleted.

Left leaning liberal media bias and thought control strikes again.

Gavin said...

Anon: your critique would be a whole lot more convincing if you had the fortitude to provide a name - or at least an identity. Hiding behind anonymity while you fire spit balls and yell "unfair" doesn't do much to impress.

Almost all comments get through. I pull the comment if the tone is overly aggressive, off the topic (usually political), angry or insulting, or makes no sense. There have to be occasional wrong calls as a snap decision is required. Usually it's no problem as the nuttier comments chalk up several violations: e.g. angry, aggressive and insulting. If it's anonymous, I'm even less likely to be bothered.

Still not happy? Tough. There are other blog options out there.

eyeswideopen said...

Well, it is funny to me that our economy is falling down around our ears. Who warned us of that? Oh yeah, RW. Terror of war is a daily event. Anyone sick of earthquakes and bad weather? I notice people want to get on here and criticize and persecute the messenger,(as with Jesus and all the prophets), yet pay no heed to the message. Since you guys are so smart and already know it all, answer me this, If the angels themselves in Revelations could be wrong about the timing and have to be told, "Wait, it's not yet time, there is something left to be done, is it really a big stretch that maybe it could happen in God's Church? I see here a repeat of the scribe's in pharisees in Jesus' time. Always looking for fault in the truth instead of accepting it and thanking God for it. I admit, I did the same at first, and had a wait and see attitude. But now I see, more everyday, by the Grace and Mercy of God.

Alastair Carnegie said...

I only found out about Ron today, I was doing a google search for a picture of Jesus laughing, and Ron's website was one of the top listings. I downloaded a copy of one of his books, pdf, and started reading, it was not long before I was speed-reading, in order to save time. Eschatology is a precarious profession, predicting earthquakes and tempests, wars and economic woes, is fairly safe, as long as the eschatologist is sufficiently vague about dates and times, but if they want to keep those 'tithes' filling up the coffers, avoid precision.

Each and every one of us will have an 'End-Time' so make good use of the intervening moments. Money is a cruel mistress to worship, it's not the greatest reward life has to offer. Genuine service to humanity brings the most satisfying reward, peace of mind.